Segment 21-28

San Luis Pass to Junction Creek Trailhead

segment 21

Segment 21

San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Trailhead

  • 14.8 Miles
  • Water Availability: Good
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Camping: Possible camp spots in the forested areas
  • Trailer Access: There is no trailer access at San Luis Pass. 

Trail Overview: This trail has a lot of ups and downs. You will gain multiple saddles and get to see the gorgeous views of the Continental Divide. The end of the trail takes you over Snow Mesa before descending down to Spring Creek Pass Trailhead at CO HWY 149. 

Concerns: This is a strenuous segment. There are rock slides and steep ridges along this segment. You will want to make sure you are not on Snow Mesa with any thunderstorms approaching because you will be above treeline for 3.3 miles. 

Trail Description: Segment 21 starts at San Luis Pass. The trail immediately starts to climb up to take you over a saddle with gorgeous views of the Continental Divide. 

After the first climb, the trail steeply descends down to the mountain drainages. In 2017, we found the most beautiful camp spot just after descending from the saddle. It was by far one of our favorite places that we camped at along the trail.

The trail then heads back up to gain another saddle, then descends before climbing even more. You will reach the high point of the segment and then continue onto the 3.3 mile section of Snow Mesa. You will be above treeline for this whole section, so be weary of traveling when there is a threat of thunderstorms.

The last two miles of the trail is spent descending down from Snow Mesa to CO HWY 149 which you will cross to get to Spring Creek Pass Trailhead. 

segment 22

Segment 22

Spring Creek Pass Trailhead to Carson Saddle

  • 17.2 Miles
  • Water Availability: Good
  • Difficulty: Very Difficult
  • Camping: Camping at the beginning of the segment
  • Trailer Access: Trailer access at Spring Creek Pass Trailhead. No trailer access at Carson Saddle. 

Trail Overview: This is the trail that reaches the highest point of the Colorado Trail! Unfortunately for us, we got stuck in a hail storm above treeline as we were coming up to the high point, so there may not be much I detail I can give about the segment. (Don't worry, the blog will be updated soon to recap our day on this segment.)

Concerns: The trail takes you up to the highest point of the whole Colorado Trail - 3,271 ft. Do not get stuck up above the treeline during a thunderstorm. We were caught off guard with an early storm that rolled in which is a very dangerous situation.

There is a section of the trail at around mile 12 where you will climb up some very steep switchbacks on an extremely narrow trail.

We recommend only experienced trail riders to attempt this segment.

segment 23

Segment 23

Carson Saddle to Stony Pass Trailhead

  • 15.9 Miles
  • Water Availability: Great
  • Difficulty: Very Difficult
  • Camping: Possible camping. 
  • Trailer Access: Very difficult trailer access

Trail Overview: This trail is beautiful, but very difficult and remote. 

Concerns: Water is plentiful, but camping spots are harder to find with minimal trees to highline the horses. We came across snow in this segment. 

Overall, this segment has some pretty rough terrain. We recommend only experienced trail riders to attempt this segment.

segment 24

Segment 24

Stony Pass Trailhead to Molas Pass

  • 20.2 Miles
  • Water Availability: Great
  • Difficulty: Moderate - Very Difficult
  • Camping: Possible camping spots after descending down to treeline. Great camping at the end of the segment.
  • Trailer Access: Difficult trailer access to Stony Pass Trailhead. Good trailer access at Molas Pass

Trail Overview: This was by far our favorite segment! It was breathtakingly, beautiful! But we would not recommend this trail for unexperienced trail riders. In fact, some people were shocked we took horses on this trail.

Concerns: This is one of the most difficult sections. If you are heading South, you will have a 4,000 ft descent over approximately 8 miles. (half of that elevation loss happens in the first 3 miles!) If you are heading North, well prepare for a strenuous climb. 

We came across snow in this segment, narrow trail along rock walls, and steep switchbacks.

Trail Description: Segment 24 starts at Stony Pass Trailhead. We could argue that this is one of the most beautiful segments of the whole trail! The views are worth it, but horse travel is not recommended for those inexperienced with mountain trail. 

The first 6.5 miles you are traveling along the Continental Divide Trail before you say your last goodbye and part ways towards Durango. The trail stays above 12,000 ft throughout this whole section. We encountered a lot of snow in our 2017 ride (end of July). 

Upon parting ways from the Continental Divide Trail, the Colorado Trails starts a steep descent. Within about 3 miles, you will have dropped down 2,000 ft. in elevation. Another 2,000 fts in elevation will be lost over the next 5.5 miles or so.

The trail follows some railroad tracks for a small portion of the segment before crossing the Animas River at mile 15.2. 

Get ready for some more climbing and a ton more switchbacks as the trail starts it's way back up 2,000 ft. 

segment 25

Segment 25

Molas Pass to Bolam Pass Road

  • 20.9 Miles
  • Water Availability: Okay
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Camping: Possible camping near Cascade Creek. Great camping at Celebration Lake.
  • Trailer Access: Trailer access at Molan Pass. No trailer access at Bolam Pass Road. (We have read that there is trailer access, but from our experience directly on the trail - you cannot get a trailer right up to Bolam Pass.)

Trail Overview: The trail stays above the treeline for a good portion of this segment. There are some pretty good climbs and the views are outstanding. 

The water availability is great on this segment. Enjoy it because in the last few segments water gets more scarce and spread out.

Concerns: Since you will be above treeline for a large portion of this segment, be weary of any developing thunderstorms. 

 The only good trailer access for this segment is at the start. You can not get a trailer up Bolam Pass Road.

Trail Description: Segment 25 starts at Molas Pass right off of US HWY 50. You cannot park right where the trail starts, but there are nearby trailheads where you can park.

The trail starts a gradual climb until you come up to the first saddle. The trail wavers with slight elevation changes over the next few miles until it starts another climb at around mile 8. The trail gains another saddle then starts a descent to Cascade Creek.

There is possible camping near Cascade Creek (before crossing over at the bridge), but even better camping and way better grazing at the end of the segment at Celebration Lake.

Continuing from Cascade Creek is another climb up over a saddle then the final miles to the end of the segment.

segment 26

Segment 26

Bolam Pass Road to Hotel Draw Road

  • 10.9 Miles
  • Water Availability: Okay
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Camping: Camping at Celebration Lake beginning of the Segment
  • Trailer Access: No trailer access at Bolam Pass Road or Hotel Draw!

Trail Overview: This segment is short with only 10.9 miles to cover. There are no major climbs compared to previous segments, but this segment does stay above 11,000 ft before dropping slightly below. 

Concerns: There is no trailer access to this segment. 

The water crossing at Straight Creek mile 8.4 is the last reliable water source for the next 22 miles until you reach Taylor Lake in Segment 27.

segment 27

Segment 27

Hotel Draw Road to Kennebec Trailhead

  • 20.6 Miles
  • Water Availability: Dry
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Camping: Possible camping at Taylor Lake
  • Trailer Access: No trailer access at Hotel Draw.

Trail Overview: This trail has over 4,000 ft. of elevation gain. It is a challenging segment that takes you over Indian Ridge Trail, a steep and narrow trail that has drop-offs on both sides. 

Concerns: Riding across Indian Ridge. No reliable water sources until Taylor Lake.

segment 28

Segment 28

Kennebec Trailhead to Junction Creek Trailhead

  • 21.5 Miles
  • Water Availability: Okay
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Camping: Limited camping in Segment 28. Possible camping at Taylor Lake in Segment 7.
  • Trailer Access: Yes

Trail Overview: The final segment of the Colorado Trail! We don't have much to say about this segment. It was the final stretch to the end. The last segment is mostly descending back down to around 7,000 ft.

Concerns: Limited camping in Segment 28. Total elevation loss of 6,500 ft. (gain if you are heading north).